Sometimes, we are asked the following questions:
- “Why are the 7th and 8th graders in combined classes?”
- “Are they re-doing 7th grade when they are in 8th grade?”
- “Why are you continuing the German Immersion model in 7th and 8th grade?”
And here are our answers:
- There are several reasons for combining the two grade levels. First, due to the number of students vs. the number of available teachers, we would not be able to offer as many classes if we went to a standalone 7th, standalone 8th model. Second, we have to work with space limitations. Third, we truly believe in the benefit of the “this year I am the younger guy/gal, next year I get to be the older one” – experience. Older students can practice leadership skills, while younger students often try to “keep up” with their older peers; both scenarios offer positive development opportunities for our students.
- No; our curriculum is set up to rotate annually, meaning one year the students receive instruction in the 7th grade curriculum, one year in the 8th grade curriculum. Within the study units, we strive to differentiate the presented learning opportunities. Our experiences with this set-up have been very positive.
- While younger students are developmentally not ready to discuss more complex subject matters, most 7th and 8th grade students are. This allows us to branch out more, challenging students with unfamiliar topics across subjects. The goal is to lead them to a stage in their language production ability where they can INDEPENDENTLY function in the target language. After 6th grade, this process is not nearly complete; we are rather beginning to transition from GUIDED to INDEPENDENT language production. Furthermore, our experience and multiple scientific studies prove that the academic and linguistic benefits of dual language education have become the most prevalent in 7th and 8th grade; benefits in students’ reading and writing abilities in their mother tongue and across several other subjects are scientifically measurable at those grade levels.